Students who did not pursue an undergraduate degree in accounting still have the opportunity to transition to an accounting-related career by obtaining a master's degree in accounting. Programs for non-accounting undergraduates are commonly offered as Master of Professional Accounting (MPA) degrees and will prepare students for a career in accounting and provide them with the knowledge and skills required to pass the CPA exams and become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).
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Master in Professional Accounting Programs for Non-Accounting Majors
While Master of Professional Accounting programs are generally open to graduates who have a bachelor's degree in any discipline, they do typically require that these students have completed a number of prerequisite courses before beginning the MPA program. Courses typically include financial accounting, statistics, managerial accounting, and some courses in business and economics. Students who obtain bachelor's degrees in areas like finance or business will likely be required to complete some of these courses while pursuing their degrees. For students who did not take these courses during their undergraduate education, some programs may offer students assistance in finding suitable courses and may allow students to take these courses online.
Students who enroll in MPA programs may often find they have some flexibility in terms of the duration of their degree programs, as many programs give students the option of completing their degree in as few as nine months, while others allow students to complete the degree on a part-time basis over the span of a couple of years. Once enrolled in the program, students can expect to take many of the courses discussed below.
Intermediate Financial Reporting/Accounting
These programs generally require that students take an intermediate level course in financial reporting or accounting to build on their base level knowledge of the subject. In this course, students will learn about various accounting policies and procedures in the United States and how an accountant is expected to work within these policies while completing the requirements of their job. Topics that will likely be covered in this course include equity, liability, revenue, gains and losses, and transactions.
In a course focused on tax reporting, students will explore how taxes affect different types of individuals and businesses and how accounting and tax policies are applied to different entities. For example, students may learn about tax theory and how it applies to an individual in comparison to a corporation. Students will also learn about the different tax reporting requirements that are set by the federal and state governments.
These programs may include several courses that focus on the topic of auditing. In these classes, students will learn about the audit process and the role of the accountant in this process. Students may learn about how different types of audits are organized, compare internal audits with external audits, and study audit reports. This course may also touch on topics like ethics, different approaches to auditing, and how to audit different systems.
Business and Accounting Ethics
MPA programs may also include a course that focuses on the topics of ethics and how it relates to the world of business and accounting. In this class, students will explore an accountant's responsibilities and their role, as well as how their ethics should affect their behavior in a business environment. Students may also discuss various topics that could potentially affect an accountant's ethics and what types of strategies should be employed to preserve ethics.
In a course that is focused on financial management, students will learn about topics like corporate finance theory and how this theory is put into practice in the way of investment decisions, policy design, and budgeting. Students will learn about the process by which corporations and business make decisions that have a financial impact on the business. Topics that may be discussed in this class include budgeting methods, profit analysis, product pricing, risk and return, and asset markets.
General Admission Requirements for MPA Degrees
Individuals who want to enroll in an MPA program will need to fulfill a number of prerequisites in order to be eligible for admission. In general, these programs will typically require that students have already completed a number of introductory level courses in areas like statistics, economics, and accounting in order to be prepared for the master's level coursework. You will typically have to complete an application form and submit official undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or essay.
In summary, students who do not have an undergraduate accounting degree can enroll in MPA programs as long as they have completed some prerequisite accounting and business courses, which will make them attractive candidates for a variety of accounting-related careers.